New laws follow Tribune reports
NURSING HOME SAFETY
In July, Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law landmark nursing home safety reforms aimed at ending chronic violence in the facilities. The law follows a yearlong Tribune investigation by David Jackson and Gary Marx that found assaults, rapes and murders in a subset of poorly supervised nursing homes that housed high numbers of mentally ill felons. Under the law, the state will beef up security and treatment measures and divert thousands of mentally disabled people into smaller, residential programs.
In June, Illinois became the first state to require the testing of all DNA evidence gathered from reported sex crimes under a new law that is expected to unearth thousands of unexamined rape kits from police vaults. The law follows a 2009 Tribune review by Megan Twohey that found many rape kits were being placed in storage untested, depriving the state of opportunities to solve crimes, exonerate the wrongfully convicted and bring closure to victims.
In July, Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law a measure that prohibits judges from granting a special type of probation called court supervision to drivers caught speeding at least 40 mph over the limit. The law resulted from a Tribune investigation earlier this year in which Joe Mahr found Chicagoland judges gave supervision to nearly two-thirds of drivers caught going 100 mph or faster, including many also cited for driving without a valid license or for driving that fast while drunk. Supervision — a staple of area courts — keeps tickets off public driving records.
We're still waiting, still watching
PARKING TICKET MYSTERY
The ongoing saga of Mark Geinosky and his 24 unwarranted parking tickets continues, as the Orland Park man still does not know why Chicago police officers targeted him. When the Tribune last checked on Geinosky on March 5, he had just filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Chicago and two police officers, contending they had abused their power by repeatedly issuing false parking tickets. At the time, an internal investigation into the tickets was still ongoing. Police spokesman Roderick Drew said this week that the investigation is complete and that a recommendation from internal affairs is being reviewed. "I don't have a timetable when the review will be complete," Drew said. The Problem Solver first wrote about Geinosky's case Feb. 24, 2009.
CHRIS ZORICH AND THE $864,645
The Tribune reported June 23 that the charity of ex-Chicago Bear Chris Zorich was in disarray and that the native South Sider didn't know the location of $864,645 in assets listed on its 2002 federal tax return, apparently the last one filed. Zorich said then that he was searching for the relevant bank statements. Since then, Zorich has yet to produce bank statements or an explanation, despite repeated requests from the Tribune. Most recently, on July 26, he wrote: "I have hired counsel and we are in the process of hiring an accounting firm and contacting the AG's office." The Illinois attorney general's office — which canceled the charity's registration in 2004, rendering it inoperable — sent letters to Zorich at his office at University of Notre Dame after the initial Tribune story. Having not heard from Zorich by July 14, it's now investigating.
—Jared S. Hopkins
BELLWOOD'S $472,255 SALARY
In June, the Tribune revealed that the blue-collar western suburb of Bellwood paid Roy McCampbell $472,255 last year — by far the highest total compensation of any suburban municipal executive. McCampbell said he did the work of 10 people — comptroller, administrator, public safety CEO, finance director, budget director, human resources director, mayoral assistant, corporation counsel, property commission director and development corporation officer. When the Tribune started asking questions about McCampbell's pay, village officials said they were completing their own probe and turning over records to the Cook County state's attorney's office. The report stirred some local residents to confront their village officials about the high pay, but there is no final word yet from the mayor or the state's attorney on any action or further explanation.